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LSD Addiction and Recovery Facts

Overview of LSD Use and Abuse

  • LSD is a hallucinogenic drug known for producing altered mental states, changes in mood and a distorted sense of reality.
  • It is a semisynthetic chemical made from the ergot fungus, a grain fungus that grows on rye grain.
  • The drug is sold in tablet form or infused onto sugar cubes, thin squares of gelatin or blotter paper.
  • LSD has a number of physical side effects, including irregular breathing, nausea, hypertension and increased body temperature.
  • It is not known to be addictive, but regular users develop a tolerance to the drug.


Lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as LSD, is a hallucinogenic drug best known for its ability to produce altered mental states, visual hallucinations, and synesthesia, or the experience that senses are being crossed over—for instance, hearing colors or seeing sounds.Pure forms of LSD occur as a clear or white crystalline substance when stored at room temperature. LSD can be sold in tablet form, or infused onto sugar cubes, thin squares of gelatin, or blotter paper for oral consumption.

How It Affects the Brain

It is unclear how LSD produces its effects. But it is believed to affect 2 neurotransmitters in the brain.


A popular theory is that it acts as a serotonin receptor agonist, which leads to increased levels of this neurotransmitter in the brain.2 Serotonin affects mood, appetite, sexual functioning and sleep cycle.


LSD is also believed to initiate a cascade of signaling events that influences glutamate activity throughout the brain. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that plays a role in cognition, memory and learning.6
Additionally, in concert with serotonin, glutamate activity helps to mediate the brain’s response to a variety of sensory stimuli and is thought to play a role in the mechanism underlying the intense hallucinations of LSD.

Rehab Costs and Types

The cost of an LSD recovery program will depend on:

  • Whether or not you have insurance, and how much it will cover.
  • Whether the program is outpatient, 12-step or inpatient.
  • How long you remain in the program.
  • The program’s location.

Below are options for how to find a rehab center with or without insurance.

  • Have insurance. Find out what your insurance covers and what treatment options are available to you by calling .
  • Don’t have insurance. You can finance your recovery or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to get help finding a program without insurance.

Types of LSD Treatment

Find out more about how to choose a rehab program for LSD abuse.

American Addiction Centers has helped thousands recover from addiction and we can help you or your loved one too. Check your insurance to find out instantly if your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies. You can also sign up 24/7 text support for addiction questions at your convenience.

LSD Effects

Short-Term Effects

As a recreational drug, LSD has the potential to produce very intense experiences. Some short-term effects include:

  • Elevated mood.
  • Altered mental state.
  • Synesthesia.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Distorted sense of reality.

Side Effects

The side effects of taking LSD include:

  • Sweating.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Tremors.
  • Irregular breathing.
  • Nausea.
  • Hypertension.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Stomach distress.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Anxiety.
  • Sleeplessness.


Long-Term Effects

Two long-term effects have been found in people who abuse LSD:

  • Persistent psychosis: includes visual disturbances, disordered thinking, paranoia and mood disturbances.
  • Hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder: includes hallucinations and other visual problems such as seeing halos or trails on moving objects.

Neither of these conditions is common. They are more likely to occur in people who have a history of psychological issues. But they can happen to anyone and even happen after taking the drug once.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

LSD is not considered a physically addictive drug, and its toxicity is relatively low. It is not available by prescription, and it is illegal to use or possess LSD. Unlike alcohol, cocaine, or heroin, LSD does not lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

Although LSD is not thought to be physically addictive, some users develop hallucinogen use disorder. This condition is characterized by a problematic pattern of use that significantly impairs a user’s life. 7

That said, hallucinogen use disorder is one of the rarest substance use disorders. Within the mental health community, there are not confirmed withdrawal symptoms associated with LSD. Regular users do develop tolerance with repeated abuse, though.

It is difficult to overdose on LSD, and no deaths have been reported from overdose.

LSD Statistics

The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found the following rates of current LSD use. These rates appear to be relatively stable since 2002.

  • 0.1% of those age 12 or older.
  • 0.3% of those age 12-17.
  • 0.3% of those age 18-25.
  • 0.1% of those age 26 or older.

Teen LSD Abuse

The 2014 Monitoring the Future Study, a yearly survey of teen drug use, found the following percentages of teens had used LSD at least once in their lives:

  • 3.7% of 12th graders.
  • 2.6% of 10th graders.
  • 1.1% of 8th graders.

These rates represent a slight decrease from 2013 and continue a downward trend since 2011.

Find Treatment for Addiction

If LSD use has become a problem for you or someone you love, call . You’ll be connected with a caring treatment support specialist who can provide information about substance abuse rehabilitation options.

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